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Resource Ecology & Fisheries Management (REFM) Division

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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

BSAI Crab EDR Validation Audit

In collaboration with Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, ESSR Program scientists have overseen a validation review of BSAI Crab EDR data by the accounting firm Aldrich, Kilbride and Tatone, LLC (AKT). Principal objectives of the validation exercise are to assess and quantify the measurement error associated with the EDR instruments and provide an incentive to maintain accuracy and rigor in reporting cost and earnings information. The validation review includes both random audits, based on a statistical sample of the EDR population, and nonrandom audits of EDRs identified on the basis of missing variables or outliers in reported information.

As of March 2007, a portion of the audits remained incomplete due to nonresponse from submitters, who were referred to NMFS Alaska Region Enforcement. AKT selected vessels or processors for audit based upon a statistical sample; for each vessel or processor selected for audit, detailed support was requested and examined for each year in which the selected vessel or processor submitted an EDR. Variables for audit were selected from those that could be validated by documented support. For each data variable requested, AKT critically evaluated the support provided against third-party support, such as invoices or fish tickets; internally-generated information, such as crew settlement sheets, general ledger details, detailed internal reports, or financial statements; and estimates made, including the reasonableness of assumptions. AKT also noted when no support was available to evaluate the information.

Preliminary results of the audit indicated that the information submitted in EDRs was generally well-supported by documentation and records. However, despite the specific definitions included in the EDRs, there is still variability in how information is reported based upon the ability to break down information in the manner requested in EDR forms. In addition, there is significant variability in the quality of supporting documentation to information submitted in the EDRs. A final revision of the audit report will be completed in early third quarter FY07 and used in development of data quality protocols for the crab EDR data and revisions to the EDR forms.

By Brian Garber-Yonts


Evaluating the Cost and Effectiveness of Fixed and Rolling Bycatch Closures in the Bering Sea

Bycatch is repeatedly noted as a primary problem of fisheries management and as the foremost negative impact of commercial fishing. In the Bering Sea pollock fishery, salmon bycatch reduction measures have included gear modifications but have principally consisted of area closures. Bycatch levels of chum and Chinook salmon have risen substantially since the beginning of the decade and significant areas of the pollock fishery have been closed at some points between 2002 and 2006. These closures have consisted of both large long-term Salmon Savings Area closures and short-term voluntary rolling hotspot (VRHS) closures.

In February, Sea State Inc., the company that helps the pollock fleet share information about salmon bycatch, provided the ESSR Program with spatial information on the VRHS closures that have been in place since 2001. This information is fundamental to being able to analyze how fishers respond to bycatch. It also allows us to properly identify bycatch hotspots, recognizing that the areas with the highest bycatch have been temporarily closed to fishing through the VRHS system.

In total, there have been more than 220 closures in an area that spans most of the pollock fishery. In March a bycatch workshop was held to present current research to the NPFMC SSC. At this workshop we outlined a number of issues of ongoing research and our methods for estimating the costs and benefits of spatial closures. We are working with AFSC scientist Dr. James Ianelli (see below) and Diana Stram of Council staff to assess potential future fixed closures and other methods of reducing bycatch.

One important insight into the design of partial-season area closures is that it is the relative difference in bycatch rather than the absolute level that is most important. If all areas have bycatch at a given point in the season, closing part of the fishing grounds will have little impact on bycatch levels. Closing a high bycatch area at a time in the season with lower overall bycatch but with more heterogeneity in bycatch levels is more likely to lower the amount of salmon caught in the fishery.

By Alan Haynie
 

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